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Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies







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Chefs' Culinary Secrets & Cooking Philosophies | Tom Colicchio, Jamie Oliver, & Rachael Ray

Compiled by Vicki McClure Davidson



Cutlery image Tom Colicchio

Chef and co-owner of New York's celebrated Gramercy Tavern, ranked New Yorkers' #1 favorite restaurant in the 2003 Zagat Survey, as well as chef/owner of Craft, the 2002 James Beard Best New Restaurant in America. Received the 2000 James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City, and a James Beard award for Best General Cookbook in 2001 for his first cookbook, Think Like a Chef; recipient of five James Beard Foundation Medals as of 2008. In 2002, opened Craftbar, a casual adjunct to Craft, CraftSteak in Las Vegas' MGM Grand Hotel, and introduced CraftKitchen, a line of olive oils and condiments imported from Calabria, Italy. In 2003, opened 'Wichcraft next door to Craftbar in New York's Flatiron district, bringing Craft's ethic of simplicity and great ingredients to the ever-popular sandwich. Nominated for an Emmy for reality show Top Chef.


"Brown chicken stock forms the base for many sauces and braises and is an essential ingredient to have at the ready in your kitchen (it freezes well). Although you could use water in place of white chicken stock, I don't recommend it. The results are far superior—richer flavor and fuller texture—when you use white chicken stock instead."
"Salsify is an autumn vegetable, with a slightly sweet flavor that some liken to an oyster, and a potato-like texture that lends itself well to roasting. Like a potato, needs to be cooked slowly to keep it from becoming mushy. I accomplish this by braising the salsify gently in a little stock, which also adds a nice rich flavor, before roasting. Salsify is especially good with roasted meat and poultry."
"Nowadays, fresh herbs can be purchased in just about any good supermarket. Although most recipes call for only one sprig or two, don't be deterred by the size of a package of supermarket herbs. Buy the whole thing and use liberally; unlike dried, you run little risk of overpowering a dish with most fresh herbs. To wash, dip herbs into a bowl of cool water or under a thin stream of tap water. Always use a very sharp knife to chop herbs and do so only at the last moment—never in advance."

Extracted from: Colicchio, Tom, Think Like a Chef, Clarkson N. Potter, Crown Publishing Group, NY, NY, 2000.


"Cook often, eat well."

Extracted from: Creators of Top Chef and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef, The Cookbook, Bravo Media, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA, 2008.


"Certain ingredients can withstand imperfect preparation; please never serve me a badly cooked leek."
"We can debate the merits of eating meat versus eating vegetables. There are certain acids in our stomach that are present solely to break down meat, that wouldn’t be there were we not supposed to eat the stuff. But along with those acids, we also have freedom of choice, and while I personally like being at the top of the food chain, I fully respect the choice to abstain from eating meat, whether for reasons of health or conviction."

Extracted from: Top Chef Blog, Tom Colicchio, (


Chef foods divider


Cutlery image Jamie Oliver

Cooked for three years, at a young age, at the critically acclaimed River Café in London; popular, irreverent host of many TV cooking shows, including The Naked Chef and Oliver's Twist; has won four awards for his TV shows and has a number of best-selling cookbooks. Food editor for British GQ magazine and has a regular column with the Saturday Times Magazine. Has been active in charity work, "Jamie's School Dinners," to increase nutritional awareness in England's working-class schools.


"I think the lovely thing about cheese is that... the whole thing about cheese, like wine, like olive oil, like anything, it's so subjective. Cheese is one of these things that you can get so used to buying the same thing every week, or buying what your mum bought, and stuff like that, and just using it in the same old ways. But, if you spend just five minutes to maybe just talk to the person behind the counter and say, 'What's good?' There are times of the year when cheeses are not that great and other times when they're brilliant, they're the best. So, just have a little conversation with him and try it. There's nothing better than having a cheese dinner. Once a month, have four or five different cheeses, a bottle of wine, some bread, beautiful bowl of fruit to end with."

Extracted from: Oliver's Twist, "The Big Cheese," season 2, episode 16, BBC/Food Network, first aired 2003.


"Very often when I'm inventing new dishes, I'll draw them before attempting to cook them for the first time. It helps me see things visually, so try out whatever helps you—it's a bit like writing a shopping list or drawing up plans for a garden."

"It really is all about twists and turns and putting new tires on old wheels. Sometimes I've thought I've invented something new and have found out that it's already been done slightly differently by someone else, but it doesn't stop me and it shouldn't stop you from really taking cooking by the horns and making it a part of your life that you enjoy. Trust me, you'll love it. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who says they hate cooking or food just doesn't know that they like it yet."

Extracted from: Oliver, Jamie, Jamie's Kitchen: A Cooking Course for Everyone, Hyperion Press, Inc., NY, 2002.


"I've got me lovely [fresh] broad beans. First things first. Get the broad beans straight into boiling water. There is absolutely no salt in there because salt actually makes the outside of the broad bean get tougher. So we need to season it later."

Extracted from: The Naked Chef, "Babysitting," season 1, episode 3, BBC/Food Network, 1999.


"Basically, celery, carrots, onion is like a classic sort of beginning of a stew or a soup. So you're gonna get some good flavors there."

Extracted from: Oliver's Twist, "Kitchen Builders," season 1, episode 5, BBC/Food Network, first aired June 12, 2002.


"Now, I know a lot of my cooking is ripping stuff up and getting it in there and makin' stuff up as I'm going. But with cakes and desserts, you really want to kinda stick to the book and get your old scales out... the thing is, it's a little bit like chemistry. You've got stuff risin' and colorin' and all that sort of thing at the same time, so you want them to work, don't you?"

"A nice lemon, give it a little wash... here we go, I'm going to use the lemon zest. People don't use the zest very much. Get me lemon, and with a fine grater, just grate that lovely yellow lemon skin, which has got such a lot of flavor. It's the white skin that's a little bitter, but the yellow is very tasty. You can use it in so many cooking things."

Extracted from: Oliver's Twist, "Tiger," season 1, episode 12, BBC/Food Network, first aired October 8, 2002.


Chef foods divider


Cutlery image Rachael Ray

In 2008, was the highest paid US television chef with her TV cooking/talk show, 14 best-selling cookbooks (as of 2008), her own magazine in 2005 Every Day with Rachael Ray), and cookware endorsements. In 2007, Forbes Magazine estimated Ray's earnings for the year at $16 million. Garnered national attention from a 2001 segment on the Today show that aired during a blizzard; was signed to a $360,000 contract the next day by the Food Network. Nominated for Emmys for 30 Minute Meals and Rachael Ray. Known for her perkiness and big smile; famous trademark terms: "Yum-o!" and "EVOO" (for extra-virgin olive oil).


"For easy slicing of raw meat, pop it into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before starting to prepare the meal. This firms it up and makes it easier to control the thickness of slices."

"I often suggest pre-shredded cheese and pre-cut veggies as options in my recipes. They offer convenience that's hard to beat."

Extracted from: Ray, Rachael, Reader's Digest website, "Rachael Ray's Kitchen Shortcuts," (, November 2005.


"If you spent one day in a cooking school, you would most definitely see that I do not chop an onion correctly, but I get my jobs done fast. I'm not a chef. I don't cook like a chef."

Extracted from: Quotes UBR website, (

"I use an ice-cream scoop to serve rice."

"Shoulder steak is often labeled as 'London Broil' in the meat case."

"Spanish-style chorizo is made with smoked pork and comes already cooked in the package. Mexican-style chorizo is made with fresh (uncooked) pork and must be thoroughly cooked."

"It's easy to thaw a frozen spinach block in the microwave. Just throw it in on High for 5 minutes. Let it cool a bit before wringing out the liquid."

"Look for balsamic vinegar that has been aged for at least 6 years. You can really taste the difference."

Extracted from: Ray, Rachael, 365: No Repeats - A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners, A 30-Minute Meal Cookbook, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, NY, NY, 2005.


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